Jamie Lee Curtis Explains the Symbolism Behind Her 2022 Oscars Gown

Jamie Lee Curtis presented Betty White's "in memoriam" segment at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday

jamie lee curtis
Photo: ABC via Getty Images

Jamie Lee Curtis' red carpet look at the 94th Academy Awards has a beautiful meaning behind it.

Speaking with PEOPLE ahead of presenting the Betty White "in memoriam" segment at the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, Curtis — who wore a crystal embroidered navy Stella McCartney evening dress and Cathy Waterman recycled platinum and ethically sourced diamond marquise star earrings, plus a blue ribbon in support of Ukrainian refugees — opened up about how her stunning award show look came about.

"Here's the series of fortunate events that led to that moment at the Oscars," Curtis, 63, recalled to PEOPLE, revealing longtime friend and publicist Heidi Schaeffer had relayed the message that she was asked to present Betty White's "in memoriam" at Sunday's show.

Jamie Lee Curtis
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"My first thought was that I should bring out a rescue dog with me since Betty White loved animals more than people. It would honor her legacy of activism and support for animal rights," Curtis continued. "I then thought I should wear a designer who is an animal rights supporter and who uses sustainable materials and non-animal materials in their designs."

94th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
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"Stella McCartney has been carrying on the legacy of her mother, Linda McCartney, and her lifelong veganism and animal rights activism," Curtis told PEOPLE, adding that she texted her godchildren, Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and another friend of hers, supermodel Amber Valletta, asking to be connected with McCartney, who designed the custom look for Curtis with her team.

Added Curtis: "Within 10 minutes Stella and I were texting and the dress was designed. There were some complications of getting a little rescue dog due to union rules, but I persevered and I'm happy that I was able to shine the many bright lights of that moment on the heroes who rescue animals and who offer them a new chance at living in a loving and nurturing family. I love the 'connect the dots' of this whole moment."

RELATED VIDEO: Betty White, The 'Golden Girls' and 'Hot in Cleveland' Star, Dead at 99

Curtis and White starred together in the 2010 romantic comedy, You Again, which also stars Kristen Bell, Sigourney Weaver, and Kristin Chenoweth.

The day after White died – shortly before her 100th birthday – Curtis penned a heartfelt tribute to the celebrated actress, writing on Instagram, "What women WANT is to live a life like Betty White. Full of love and creativity and integrity and humor and dedication and a life of service to animals. To honor her today please make a donation to the @morrisanimalfoundation Morris Animal Foundation or any animal advocacy group! She would LOVE that. Rest easy you beautiful woman. We will carry on for you!"

The 2022 Oscars are airing Sunday from Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on ABC.

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